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  • FIRST POST
    • navrav
    • By navrav 30th Nov 17, 11:49 AM
    • 9Posts
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    navrav
    Purchased property not owned by vendor..
    • #1
    • 30th Nov 17, 11:49 AM
    Purchased property not owned by vendor.. 30th Nov 17 at 11:49 AM
    I discovered 4 days ago that the title to my property was still held by the previous owner - despite us purchasing it over 4 years ago. No mention of this has been made by my solicitors and I haven't heard from them since the completion.

    I know this happens so I wasn't unduly worried at that stage. However I then did some checking with the land registry and It turns out the property we thought we were buying comprises of two bits of land - and the second bit of land was unregistered land and not owned by the vendor at the time it was sold to us.

    It appears that the land registry therefore rejected the transfer and several months after completion the vendor registered the land in his name.

    Apparently the application for transfer was again made after this by my solicitors and that application was again rejected.

    I tried to ask my solicitor what was going on , why was the application rejected, what is my legal position regarding ownership - (as I understand it would be held in trust - except for the fact the vendor cant hold it in trust for us if he didn't own it.)

    and received replies of:

    I cant give you the information - it is at a different office.

    followed by two days later 'I have neither the time or resources to deal with this'

    When I said I was going to make a formal complaint, they said that doing so would mean they file would be locked for 8 weeks while they investigated and no progress could be made on the case until after the 8 week period and furthermore I could not have any information during this period.

    So I have opted for an informal complaint at the moment just to find out what the problem is and have asked for copies of the communication between them and the land registry and between them and the vendors solicitor.

    3 days later still no word - Any suggestions what the position might be and how best to proceed?

    Edit: I should mention the house was on a bit of the land he did have title to - the land he didn't have title to comprises the garden including septic tank and garden office.
    Last edited by navrav; 30-11-2017 at 11:53 AM. Reason: Adding missing detail
Page 1
    • 00ec25
    • By 00ec25 30th Nov 17, 12:14 PM
    • 5,571 Posts
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    00ec25
    • #2
    • 30th Nov 17, 12:14 PM
    • #2
    • 30th Nov 17, 12:14 PM
    you have started the obvious course of action , what possessed your solicitor to "allow" you to complete when it appears there were serious gaps in precisely the area that you employed a solicitor to manage

    as you have now chosen not to instigate a formal complaint then you'll just have to wait until you get so fed up with lack of progress that you bite the bullet and then start one.

    May also be advisable to research how you sue your solicitor if it comes to that.
    • navrav
    • By navrav 30th Nov 17, 12:25 PM
    • 9 Posts
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    navrav
    • #3
    • 30th Nov 17, 12:25 PM
    • #3
    • 30th Nov 17, 12:25 PM
    I presume that my solicitors trusted that the vendors solicitor would have done the check that the vendor owned it. However since my solicitors haven't given me any information I can't say. Other than the replies they gave above the only other information they furnished is that

    ' the failure to register was due to the Sellers solicitors failing to respond to requests from us'

    No mention of the their second attempt at registering at all - no mention of what the problem is and their attitude seems to be 'complain if you want, we don't care' and if you do we will wait for the full 8 weeks.
    • googler
    • By googler 30th Nov 17, 12:28 PM
    • 14,472 Posts
    • 9,347 Thanks
    googler
    • #4
    • 30th Nov 17, 12:28 PM
    • #4
    • 30th Nov 17, 12:28 PM
    The mainstream press would have a field day with this one.

    "I paid a solicitor £X and they didn't complete the purchase for me"
    "I thought I'd bought the house, but ..."
    • aneary
    • By aneary 30th Nov 17, 12:43 PM
    • 817 Posts
    • 704 Thanks
    aneary
    • #5
    • 30th Nov 17, 12:43 PM
    • #5
    • 30th Nov 17, 12:43 PM
    Go to another solicitor the first solicitor will have to provided the case file to the new solicitor.

    Then make a formal complaint the new solicitor may be able to help with this too.
    • Comms69
    • By Comms69 30th Nov 17, 12:51 PM
    • 1,318 Posts
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    Comms69
    • #6
    • 30th Nov 17, 12:51 PM
    • #6
    • 30th Nov 17, 12:51 PM
    There should be a partner responsible for dealing with complaints. I'd suggest that is the next port of call.


    However, this sounds more like a large coveyancing company, is it?
    • davidmcn
    • By davidmcn 30th Nov 17, 12:58 PM
    • 6,279 Posts
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    davidmcn
    • #7
    • 30th Nov 17, 12:58 PM
    • #7
    • 30th Nov 17, 12:58 PM
    It doesn't sound like it can be easily sorted (which may explain the lack of reassuring responses from the original firm). I would suggest you instruct another firm to advise you on your options.


    Do you have a mortgage? The lender will be interested in getting it sorted out too - they can't repossess what you don't have title to.
    • navrav
    • By navrav 30th Nov 17, 1:00 PM
    • 9 Posts
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    navrav
    • #8
    • 30th Nov 17, 1:00 PM
    • #8
    • 30th Nov 17, 1:00 PM
    It was a small local company who are now trading as a large conveyancing operation. We first dealt with them when they were just two local solicitors.
    It is the person responsible for complaints who said that we would have to wait the full 8 weeks as he was going on holiday and the file will be sealed and no progress made.

    I have somewhat lost faith with the legal profession. I have to wait 8 weeks for them to reply - then go to the legal ombudsmen who might take months and then if it is proved that it isn't just poor service then on to the SRA. The only other option is to sue them which means spending a lot of money with another solicitor - and I have no guarantee the new solicitor will be any better. I would think solicitors stick together.
    • navrav
    • By navrav 30th Nov 17, 1:01 PM
    • 9 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    navrav
    • #9
    • 30th Nov 17, 1:01 PM
    • #9
    • 30th Nov 17, 1:01 PM
    No Mortgage, decided to go downsize and go mortgage free for the security it gave us. Some joke that!
    • aneary
    • By aneary 30th Nov 17, 1:07 PM
    • 817 Posts
    • 704 Thanks
    aneary
    The legal ombudsmen is the SRA.

    As per my advise above go to another solicitor (local general solicitor) they will be able to get your file (solicitors don't stick together) then start your compliant. Whilst your compliant is being dealt with the new solicitor can find out what has happened with your house and advise if and where the previous solicitor has gone wrong. Yes it may cost money but if the previous solicitor has done something wrong they will probably pay your new fees to avoid you going to the SRA.
    • G_M
    • By G_M 30th Nov 17, 1:39 PM
    • 42,313 Posts
    • 49,157 Thanks
    G_M
    4 years?! And you're worrried about a possible 8 week wait?

    Given the inital response by your solicito, clearly this requires a formal complaint, followed by, if necessary, referral to the SRA.
    • navrav
    • By navrav 30th Nov 17, 2:08 PM
    • 9 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    navrav
    Well for over 4 years I didnt know there was a problem. Sunday night I discovered the problem,
    Monday morning I discovered why there was a problem and since then I'm even more worried as the beneficial ownership in trust that should protect me doesn't apply when they didn't own the land to hold in trust
    • Tiglet2
    • By Tiglet2 30th Nov 17, 2:22 PM
    • 17 Posts
    • 7 Thanks
    Tiglet2
    Do you still have any of the correspondence/paperwork supplied by your solicitor when you purchased?

    If you can locate any paperwork, there may be some clues held within. For example, the solicitor should have written to you early on in the process with some information about the property you were buying. It should have enclosed a copy of the title plan (title number displayed on this document). The solicitor would have asked you to look at the title plan and confirm that the boundaries conform to your understanding of the plot. Did you only receive one title plan and no information whatsoever about the unregistered land adjoining?

    If the piece of land in question was an additional plot and not shown on the title plan, I assume you queried it at the time? Did the solicitor know that there was an additional piece of land that you thought you were buying? If so, I assume that as the land was unregistered, then the previous owner would have to claim possessory title over it. This takes a while for Land Registry to survey/write to potential interested parties/transfer ownership to the vendor. Once the land was transferred to the vendor, he can then sell to you.

    Did you complete the purchase before Land Registry had transferred ownership to the vendor? I note you do not have a mortgage. Mortgage lenders would not proceed without the possessory title being transferred to the vendor and then to you. Obviously if there is no lender involved, you may well have gone ahead and completed before this was sorted out. Try to remember if, at the time, you were eager to complete and, maybe put pressure on the solicitor because you were keen not to lose your buyer etc etc. It may be that once the transaction completed, no-one followed up the need to transfer the piece of land to you. Once Land Registry had completed the transfer to the vendor, nothing was done to transfer it to you and you file ended up being put in the Dead box as an admin assistant thought the transaction had ended.

    You absolutely do need that file to be retrieved soonest. Solicitors will often only keep files for six years before they are destroyed, so my advice would be to either escalate to the highest level at your conveyancing solicitors with the threat of the ombudsman or get another one involved asap. It may cost you some money (or not, depending on what/how it went wrong), but surely you want your name on those deeds?

    Good luck!
    • getmore4less
    • By getmore4less 30th Nov 17, 2:28 PM
    • 30,819 Posts
    • 18,427 Thanks
    getmore4less
    Even though they may not have had registered legal title you/they contracted to sell you the land to you so should still be liable to hand over the legal title.

    Probably less of a problem now they have registered legal ownership, would be worse of it had been someone else.

    They would either have to buy it for you or compensate.
    Last edited by getmore4less; 30-11-2017 at 2:42 PM.
    • navrav
    • By navrav 30th Nov 17, 2:35 PM
    • 9 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    navrav
    >>It should have enclosed a copy of the title plan (title number displayed on this document). The solicitor would have asked you to look at the title plan and confirm that the boundaries conform to your understanding of the plot. Did you only receive one title plan and no information whatsoever about the unregistered land adjoining?

    Yes and actually the title number displayed when I checked yesterday was for a 3rd piece of land nothing to do with the two actual pieces of land. However the boundary drawn was for my plot and showed no indication of it being two plots.

    >Did you complete the purchase before Land Registry had transferred ownership to the vendor?

    As mentioned above - the document I received showed one boundary and the document title reference when i looked it up yesterday appears to be for a different piece of land altogether - it would appear someone just drew the boundary in red on another plan. I foolishly assumed my solicitor would have checked it was genuine.
    • Tiglet2
    • By Tiglet2 30th Nov 17, 2:38 PM
    • 17 Posts
    • 7 Thanks
    Tiglet2
    The solicitor doesn't visit the property and has no way of knowing if the boundaries shown on a title plan are correct. This is why they ask you to check that the boundaries (in red) accord with your understanding.
    • navrav
    • By navrav 30th Nov 17, 2:41 PM
    • 9 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    navrav
    Which I did. The plan submitted to me was correct. It just doesn't correspond to the land registry plans for the two bits of land, the SK number wasnt visible at the time till i removed the staple and checked it yesterday
    • moneyistooshorttomention
    • By moneyistooshorttomention 30th Nov 17, 2:50 PM
    • 14,236 Posts
    • 38,559 Thanks
    moneyistooshorttomention
    Is the need to know the answer to this question an urgent one - eg you have just decided to sell this property and need to know how to answer a potential buyer on this?

    Or - on the other hand - can you afford to "wait it out"?

    There could possibly be a different answer to your question according to which scenario we are talking about here.

    If it's the "time is on your side" scenario - then maybe you've got time to do an adverse possession claim on that bit of your land that isnt on your title (because the blinkin' vendor has proven to be surreptitiously trying to hold onto it) - ie wait it out however many years you have to. None of us could predict for sure whether that would work I guess - but it could be a possibility.

    I dont normally advocate "adverse possession" - as it normally means trying to whip someone else's land off them. In your case, however, it is your blinkin' land - but just isnt officially in your possession by the sound of it iyswim.
    New Year's Resolution already made -

    Don't get mad....get firm ...
    • navrav
    • By navrav 30th Nov 17, 3:29 PM
    • 9 Posts
    • 0 Thanks
    navrav
    I don't think I'm prepared to wait 7 years for adverse possession as never mind the garden not being owned by him - the title of my house is currently not transferred either from the bit of land he does own.
    • TBagpuss
    • By TBagpuss 30th Nov 17, 5:30 PM
    • 6,084 Posts
    • 7,834 Thanks
    TBagpuss
    Make a formal complaint to your original solicitor. Keep a copy of everything you send them or they send you.

    It may be worth you contacting a new solicitor and asking them to request the file.

    The 8 weeks thing - it's a maximum, the Ombudsman may find that it is poor service on their part if they don't respond more quickly, it's just that you can't normally go to the ombudsman until you've given the original solicitor 8 weeks.

    However, normally in that 8 weeks you would expect them to have acknowledged the complaint, reviewed the file and been in touch with you to either give you more information or to give you a timescale as to when you should hear, possibly even to have been invited to met with them to discuss things.

    If the issue was that there were 2 pieces of land, they would not necessarily have known that but in that scenario I would expect the bit they i now about to have been registered to you, even if that means there was a piece of land which wasn't registered. And they ought to have noticed that they had either not had the confirmation from the Land Registry that the transfer had been registered, or that they had had a letter from the LR that there was an issue.

    Since the clock starts ticking on the 8 weeks when you make a formal complaint, do that now, in writing.

    By the way, if you do consult another solicitor and they request the file, the first one has to provide it.

    They can't hold on to it to respond to your complaint, they would be expected to make a copy of it for their own use for that purpose, and to send the original on to your new solicitor. Equally, you can request the file yourself from them. So the claim that the file would be 'locked' for 8 weeks, is ... not entirely accurate. (and a delay in 8 weeks in providing your file when you ask for it would probably be seen as further poor service by the ombudsman, should you get that far)

    Either way, there may be a small admin charge for retrieving the file, (provided they told you in their original client care letter or closing letter that there would be) but they can't charge you to copy the file so they can keep a copy to deal with the complaint.

    If they don't deal with the complaint within the 8 weeks you can go to the ombudsman or, depending on the advice you're given by your new solicitor, may want to make a claim instead,this sounds as though it is likely to need to go to their insurers, especially if it is the whole of your property, not just part, which wasn't registered to you and is now registered to your seller.

    If the issue is that the main house was registered to you and there is a separate piece of land that wasn't, the situation is a bit more complicated as a lot will depend on whether your solicitor knew that you were expecting to get that bit as well, and for that reason it may well be that you need to have the file checked by someone new, so they can see what exactly happened and who said what.

    Keep us updated.
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